The year was 2018 and restaurateur Nedal Ahmad was 34, working a stress-filled gig as CEO of Pincho Factory, and overweight. After a few visits to his doctor, he knew he needed to make a lifestyle change. He stepped down as CEO and dedicated himself to experimenting with healthy meal options. One year later, he was down 70 pounds and had amassed a new collection of recipes.
Fast-forward to the present and the former Pincho man is launching Get Real, a fast-casual concept that’s all about good, clean eating. It will launch Monday, July 13, as an on-demand meal-delivery service on Postmates. A fast-casual restaurant is also in the works, on a longer timeline owing to the pandemic.
“As a theory, the concept for Get Real actually started back in 2018. I was a 307-pound chain smoker with high blood pressure. I knew I had to make some changes,” Ahmad tells New Times. “I love big, bold flavors, so I had to figure out a way to make healthy foods taste better.”
Ahmad didn’t dream up Get Real until the arrival of the coronavirus essentially forced him to. In mid-March, as restaurants began to close their doors because of the pandemic, Ahmad found himself with an empty restaurant and a fresh idea.
“I’ve got this arsenal of tasty, healthy recipes that worked for me and I’ve got this unused space with a great kitchen. The space is here and I had to do something with it,” Ahmad says, sitting in the center of an empty dining room. “I grabbed a couple buddies of mine and we put the whole thing together in 90 days.”
Those friends include Ahmad’s younger brother, Nizar, and Andrew Gonzalez of Night Owl Cookies, who are partnering with Ahmad on the meal-delivery business.
“When Nedal reached out to me to partner with him on this new concept it was a no-brainer for me,” says Gonzalez. “We've been friends for years and I always looked up to him since I first started Night Owl. Between Nedal, his brother Nizar, and myself, the three of us really create a powerful unit. Get Real is a game changer and I'm so excited to share it with everyone.”
“Phase one of our launch is exclusively on Postmates with a limited menu,” Ahmad explains. “We’re going to have ten menu items, which include five main-dish options and then variations of carb and vegetable sides.”
Like most other meal-delivery services, you’ll have the option of selecting your meat and sides and can choose delivery of one, two, or three meals a day. Prices range from $10 to $12 per meal.
The menu will expand in the near future, but for its launch, the Get Real meal options will include a choice of citrus or sweet chicken, jackfruit ropa vieja, or salmon for the main dish; gallo pinto made with cauliflower rice, brown rice with quinoa, or pasta with mushrooms and spinach for the carb; and vegetable options such as carrots, broccoli, or asparagus.
Ahmad says Get Real supports local farms as much as it can. “We try to dial back on the salts and oils and instead bring out the flavors using citrus and fresh herbs. We’d rather use ingredients you can pronounce and also grab off a shelf at any supermarket.”
The main kitchen for Get Real is located inside a former Pincho space in Doral. Although the place has been decked out — including a new paint job — Ahmad says he's waiting to open the dining room. “Originally, Get Real was going to just be a restaurant, but with everything going on I’m in no rush to open the space to dine-in customers,” he says.
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Phase two of the launch entails getting the Get Real website up and running and taking orders directly from its own site in addition to Postmates. Phase three is expected to come sometime in the fall and includes opening the fast-casual space for diners.
Initially, the service area for meal deliveries will include Doral, Medley, Hialeah, and Westchester. As the business expands, more neighborhoods will be added to the delivery range, including Midtown and West Kendall.
“We still have some ways to go, but we’re having fun with this,” says Ahmad.